Preview: LA Phil Reykjavík Festival Friday at WDCH

All opening night tickets are only $25

April 6th, 2017
Kyle B. Smith
Category: News

Pound for pound, has another nation provided more intriguing, otherworldly music than Iceland? To start, there’s queen Björk, grandaddies Sigur Rós, pop folk juggernauts Of Monsters and Men, up and comers Kaleo, and film composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. Mix in veterans múm, a gang of others, and then do the math: Iceland has about as many residents at Cleveland.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Reykjavík Festival is already underway, but there will be opening night festivities at Walt Disney Concert Hall this Friday, April 7. The opening program will include performances from Icelandic artists múm, amiina, Skúli Sverrisson & Ólöf Arnalds, dj. flugvél og geimskip (Airplane & Spaceship), and JFDR.

The Festival, which started April 1 and runs through June 4, will feature “established and emerging acts from the flourishing Icelandic music scene,” curated by Esa-Pekka Salonen and Daníel Bjarnason, as well as visual art from Icelandic artists Shoplifter (Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir) and Siggi Eggertsson.

The Festival will include the U.S. premiere of the film “Driving at the speed of the Nordic sun” by Xárene Eskander, with music by Daníel Bjarnason, and the West Coast premiere of Björk Digital, an exhibition of groundbreaking VR video works featuring music from Björk’s latest album, Vulnicura. A pioneer in music, art, and technology, Björk has worked with a collection of world-renowned directors, programmers, and visual artists to create a series of innovative virtual reality works displayed throughout a series of rooms. Björk Digital will invite guests to experience these immersive works through the latest in virtual reality technology.

All tickets for Friday’s opening festivities are only $25. Here’s a bit more on what you can expect inside (and outside!) Walt Disney Concert Hall on Friday.

múm is a 7-piece musical group known for its exploratory music that incorporates electronic sounds, soft vocals, glitch beats, sampling, and use of a variety of traditional and unconventional instruments. Described as “Iceland’s leading electronic band” by Rolling Stone, múm has released six albums.

Originally formed as a classical string quartet at Reykjavík College of Music in the late 1990s, amiina went on to perform diverse genres of music with various bands in Reykjavík. In 1999, they became the string section for Sigur Rós, performing with the band on tour and on multiple album recordings over the next decade. 2007 saw the release of amiina’s debut album Kurr, featuring an array of instruments – including musical saws, kalimbas and music boxes – for what The Guardian described as “in a strange, powerful place between sophistication and innocence.” The group’s latest album Fantômas was originally composed as a live score to the eponymous 1913 silent masterpiece directed by Louis Feuillade.

An established bass player, composer and producer, Skúli Sverrisson has worked with artists including Laurie Anderson (as her music director), Wadada Leo Smith, Lou Reed, Blonde Redhead, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Jóhann Jóhannsson and many more.

Ólöf Arnalds is a singer and multi-instrumentalist – classically trained on the violin and viola – whose fourth solo record Palme (produced by Skúli Sverrisson and Gunnar Tynes) was released in 2014 on Björk’s label, One Little Indian. Sverrisson and Arnalds’ collaboration began in the early 2000s when Arnalds took an active part in the making of Sverrisson’s critically acclaimed album Sería, and they have gone on to become the founders of Mengi, a performance venue for experimental music and arts in downtown Reykjavík. Skúli Sverrisson & Ólöf Arnalds will be joined for this performance by collaborator Ólafur Björn Ólafsson, a composer, percussionist and keyboard player.

dj. flugvél og geimskip (Airplane & Spaceship) is the one-person orchestra of Steinunn Harðardóttir. dj. flugvél og geimskip’s live performances combine music, poetry and theater for what she describes as “horror electronic music from outer space,” utilizing keyboards, drum machines and vocals. Her latest album Glamúr í geimnum featured dance beats and melodies influenced by music from India and Syria.

JFDR is the latest project from Jófríður Ákadóttir, who draws from classical, folk and electronic music to create a blend of cyclical guitar parts with soft, minimal soundscapes, and poetic wanderings full of rich imagery and subtle emotions.

Notably, Reykjavík Festival will include three nights of performances from Sigur Rós performing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (April 13, 14 and 15). Orchestral arrangements are by Daníel Bjarnason, Dan Deacon, David Lang, Missy Mazzoli, Anna Meredith, Nico Muhly, Owen Pallett,and Páll Ragnar Palsson.


Friday, April 7, 2017
Reykjavík Festival
Opening Night: Made in Iceland

BP Hall, 7:00PM
* Installation by Shoplifter

WDCH Stage Performances, 7:30PM
Skúli Sverrisson & Ólöf Arnalds
dj. flugvél og geimskip (Airplane & Spaceship)

W.M. Keck Foundation Children’s Amphitheatre
*Driving at the speed of the Nordic sun film screening (film by Xarene Eskander, music by Daníel Bjarnason) (continuous screenings)

Additional artists and activations as part of this Opening Night to be announced.

* will remain throughout Reykjavík Festival

For full details on Reykjavík Festival, click here.

For tickets to Opening Night, click here.

Festival Review: Treefort Music Fest

The best music festival you have yet to hear of.

April 3rd, 2017
Lex Voight
Category: Lead Story, Review

For it’s sixth consecutive year, Treefort Music Fest is beginning to draw massive crowds for its amazing lineup of music and arts. With multiple stages and venues, comedy, art, performance, dance, and seminars, Treefort feels like a SXSW-lite.
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Harry Styles to be Musical Guest on SNL

Appearing on the first live coast-to-coast show!

March 31st, 2017
Zein Khleif
Category: News

After announcing that each of the final four episodes of this season’s Saturday Night Live will be aired simultaneously across the country, audiences now have more to look forward to! Harry Styles has been tapped to perform as the musical guest on the first live coast-to-coast show, airing April 15th with host Jimmy Fallon.

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Night Lights Release New Music Video

“Things We Used To Know” takes us through decades

March 29th, 2017
Mary Bonney
Category: News

Night Lights, one of our favorite local indie rock bands on the rise, has released a music video perfectly tailored to their single “Things We Used To Know”. The international quartet has been posting old photos of themselves to promote the new single and the track’s delightful accompanying video takes us on a ride through the decades.

Night Lights crafts feel-good, dance-ready songs like these, with impressively insightful lyrics about heartbreak and growing up hidden under shimmering indie music. They’ve proven their skills for blending genres and their electronica-tinged indie pop rock is sweetest in the chorus during its infectious autotune acrobatics (which pairs perfectly with 1980s wardrobe and lead vocalist/guitarist Mauricio Jimenez’s impressive dance moves).

The four musicians, who met at Berkeley and have been making music ever since, are finding their groove, individually and as a band. The men demonstrate a joyful camaraderie on stage and in their music and their genre experimenting proves a clear confidence both in their talents and each other.

“Things We Used To Know” is off their upcoming album Good Better Alright set for release April 7th and we can’t wait to see what other instant favorites they have in store.

The band is performing this Friday, March 31st with fellow indie rockers The Score at AMPLYFi and tickets are available now.

For more information on Night Lights:

Official site

Show Review: Xiu Xiu at Union Nightclub

Using every color in the crayon box

March 27th, 2017
Kyle B. Smith
Category: Review

Fifteen years in to the life of Xiu Xiu, a new chapter has been added with their release of the bone crushing, moody, and darkly beautiful LP, FORGET.

Kicking off their tour with an album release show, Xiu Xiu (on this night comprised of members Jamie Stewart and Angela Seo) played exactly half of the ten new FORGET tracks at Union Nightclub. For many LA musicgoers who inhabit the many east side tried and true establishments, this atypical setting received a sort of validation once Xiu Xiu’s disconcerting and defiant assault began.

Stewart’s desperate and tortured cries could be a hybrid of Anohni and Devon Welsh crossed with a Bowie haunt, particularly on 2002 song, “Don Diasco” (Welsh of recently shelved act, Majical Cloudz). The melodrama carried over to Stewart’s attitudinal shoulder shrugs, backed by Seo’s gesticulative and sparse analog and digital percussion.

By the third song, FORGET track “Wondering,” things really got cooking as the twosome rode a New Wave synth arc sky high. This injection continued during new album title track, “Forget,” begging questions like, how can something that in one moment feels quite discordant, also manage to find such a driving melody? Or, with all the warble and sonic paranoia, how is there time and space for all this beauty?

Xiu Xiu exhibit massive range both on record, and in person. In fact, I struggle to come up with another act that can use every color in the crayon box like they do. And to think, at the Union they achieved this with just two band members.

With the improbable cover choice of ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man,” Xiu Xiu dipped in to a space funk that yet again tapped an unexpected dichotomy, that of glam-cum-Kraftwerk. In another moment, a fellow concertgoer astutely pegged one industrial vibe as, “emo meets German hardcore.” And so it went.

New one “Get Up” employed wood blocks digitally looped by Stewart. In the midst of executing the lyrics on top of his gentle loops, Stewart quickly sobered up the room in one fell swoop with the blood-curdling shriek of, “RISE FROM THE DEAD!” The song described harmonicas and pianos falling on faces, typically violently-themed Xiu Xiu lyrics that were soon forgotten with an absolute cacophonous eruption of pop melody, because why not? It was a show-stopping moment.

Aggro album opener, “The Call,” and the uber-neurotic confessional “Faith, Torn Apart” notably did not receive live treatment. It would have been interesting to witness how the band would have handled some of the lyrics to “The Call”, or the series of earnest confessions that close out FORGET on “Faith, Torn Apart.”

Nevertheless, the performance left a jarring impression, one rooted in the many contrasts that, when cobbled together, create Xiu Xiu.

Xiu Xiu at Union Nightclub Setlist

Don Diasco
I Luv Abortion
Fabulous Muscles
Jenny GoGo
Hay Choco Bananas
Sharp Dressed Man (ZZ Top)
Get Up
Stupid in the Dark
Sad Pony Guerrilla Girl
I Broke Up
Crank Heart

Show Review: Matthew Koma @ Hotel Cafe

The master songwriter awes with his acoustic set!

March 24th, 2017
Zein Khleif
Category: Review

Matthew Koma is not only a joy to speak to, but also a joy to watch perform. Onstage at Hotel Café, accompanied only by his guitar, he gave his audience a stunning night of song.

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On Lake Street Dive and Evidence for The Divine

Lake Street Dive can make me a believer.

Lex Voight
Category: Lead Story, Review

I have an ambiguous relationship with God(s).

While on one hand I steadfastly believe organized religion to be mostly a terrible thing, I’m aware that the community that religion can foster can be beneficial. Historically, however, people have used that faith in one particular deity or another to draw lines and fight wars, rather than reach out and encompass their fellow man. And the deities have mostly kept out of it, either too ignorant, absent, trusting, or sadistic have been content to let us sort it all out for ourselves. This, of course, has been used, along with innumerable other arguments that are tough to contradict, as evidence that “God is dead” – either that they never existed or they buggered off or we killed them. Most of the time I fall on this side of things: religion is in general harmful, the divine is irrelevant because I have seen no concrete evidence of its existence and there are few arguments that I find satisfactory to explain it’s existence.

“The Unmoved First Mover”/Intelligent Design argument I always thought kind of nicely solved the pesky problem of there being science and everything – that some infinitely intelligent being just kinda set everything up like the most intricate 11-dimensional line of dominoes and then went “flick.” Its an argument that’s tough to argue with when one doesn’t understand how to explain the big bang.

“At first there was nothing, which exploded,” as Terry Pratchett once said.

The other argument for the existence of the divine is, of course, Lake Street Dive.

And I meant that with total (semi) seriousness. Lake Street Dive, who I saw for the first time this week at the Theater at the Ace Hotel, are clearly too perfect to have come from a cold, unfeeling, and uncaring universe neutral to the existence of humanity.

Lake Street Dive are a moderately successful soul/jazz/pop band that formed in Boston a number of years ago. Each member, an expert at their respective instruments, updated the New Orleans-influenced jazz-soul sounds of Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Chet Baker, Sam Cooke, and Otis Redding, mixing it with a heavy dose of disco, pop, and rock and roll. What they’ve done just over the three records and one EP that I have heard (there are several LP’s in their oeuvre which are nigh impossible to find) is create some of the most soulful contributions to modern music that is infinitely enjoyable.

I often openly question why music, as a medium, didn’t just give up after Freddie Mercury died. People like Bridget Kearney, Mike Calabrese, Mike Olson, and the incomparable Rachael Price, are the answer.

Ms. Price came sashaying out at the Ace, clad in a flow-y pink retro jumpsuit that took the audience’s breath away. Believe me when I say this as a cishet man who gasped in pleasure when Jon Forte walked out in a tux when I saw him open for K’Naan and drooled when I shot Lenny Kravitz last year at KAABOO. I know what an audience – straight, gay, or whatever – loses its breath. And it was lost before Lake Street Dive launched into “Bad Self Portraits.”

We were never to regain it.

Pulling from all over their last three LP’s, as well as a couple covers featured on their Fun Machine EP, Lake Street Dive left the audience breathless, dancing, screaming, and shaken. To my infinite pleasure, LSD’s set wears its old soul influences on its sleeve. I always thought it an amazingly beautiful gesture when someone like Solomon Burke or Al Green–people who’s talent is legendary and who packed houses just on their own names–would then point to the members of their band, name them, and give them each a moment to stand out in front of the crowd as their own. In LSD, each member is similarly equally valued in their live show, each given a chance to shine despite Rachael Price’s frontwoman status. Bridget Kearney’s upright bass solo, in particular, is something to behold (woman can absolutely shred). Multi-instrumentalist Mike Olson, however, creates a quiet presence in the background, often at a slight remove, holding playing the trumpet or guitar masterfully but with little fanfare.

Belting out a string of room-filling soul/rock one does miss the quieter sound of some jazz and soul and, sure enough, halfway through their show LSD took a break to go acoustic for a couple of songs, before launching back into some of their most pop-influenced tracks off their 2016 full-length Side Pony.
Look, I’m not entirely sure of the existence of god, but I had a borderline religious experience watching Lake Street Dive play. There are few things in this world which I consider truly heavenly, but Lake Street Dive were clearly sent from on-high.

Probably, anyway.

Closely Releases “Away With Me”

Indie electronic collaboration with Novelties

March 22nd, 2017
Mary Bonney
Category: News

Earlier this year, one of our favorite local duos Novelties hinted that they were working with Toronto-based indie electronic trio closely on an upcoming collaboration. The new track “Away With Me” dropped today and it blends the dark pop we’ve come to love from Novelties with closely’s indie electronica. Take a listen below.

“Away With Me” takes off with dreamy vocals swirling around pulsating percussion. Kelly Mylod and Sophie Noire’s ethereal voices blend with Michael Cranston’s to create hypnotic melodies, begging to “take you away with me.” The tempo seamlessly changes throughout as they experiment with the lush orchestration, resulting in the perfect relaxing summer track.


We’ll keep our eyes peeled for more soothing electronic/indie tracks from both of these groups!


For more information on closely:

For more information on Novelties:
Official site